March 2011
RAINN Helps Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military Through Groundbreaking Service for Department of Defense

Safe HelplineVictims of sexual assault in the U.S. military have a new lifeline for confidential support: the DoD Safe Helpline, operated by RAINN through a contract with the Department of Defense (DoD). Safe Helpline will provide live, one-on-one crisis intervention, emotional support, advice and information to the DoD community worldwide by phone and online, as well as referral information by text message.

While RAINN is operating the helpline for DoD, RAINN is required to keep all communications strictly anonymous and confidential. That means that no personally-identifying information will ever be shared with DoD or the helpline user's chain-of-command.

"It is great to see SAPRO and the Department of Defense taking this bold step to help victims of sexual assault," said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. "With Safe Helpline, DoD is making a major effort to provide the very best care and recovery assistance to those who need — and deserve — help."

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RAINN Hope Necklace

RAINN Hope Necklace

Actress KaDee Strickland, from ABC's Private Practice, has collaborated with Gorjana to create an exclusive jewelry piece for RAINN!

The 18" necklace is a delicate rain drop charm inscribed with the word 'hope' and plated in 18k gold. 80% of the sale price will go directly to RAINN to help victims of sexual violence.

Watch KaDee talk about why she loves the RAINN Hope Necklace

Behind the Scenes: The Making of the Safe Helpline

Text Safe Helpline While RAINN has extensive experience serving victims of sexual assault in the U.S. (the National Sexual Assault Hotline and Online Hotline have helped more than 1.5 million people since 1994), creating new services to help military personnel stationed on every continent presented some new challenges. DoD's mandate was clear: All services need to operate 24/7, they need to work worldwide, and they must be tailored to the specific needs of members of the DoD community.

Over the past year, RAINN has hired more than 40 new staff members and provided thousands of hours of training. Some more facts about Safe Helpline:

  • The SMS (texting) service provides immediate contact info for the sexual assault response coordinator on every military base and installation.
  • RAINN adapted the award-winning Online Hotline to serve military users. This included creating an entirely new site at

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RAINN Contributes to "TV with a Conscience"

TV with a ConscienceThe Television Academy — the folks behind the Emmy Awards — announced that ABC's Private Practice and The Oprah Winfrey Show are among the winners of this year's Television Academy Honors for the treatment of sexual violence. RAINN worked closely with the producers of both programs as they developed the winning shows. The Television Academy Honors were established in 2008 to recognize "Television with a Conscience."

Private Practice was chosen for its powerful portrayal of the rape of Dr. Charlotte King, played by actress KaDee Strickland. Strickland worked closely with RAINN Speakers Bureau Members and staff to give viewers the most accurate portrayal possible.

The Oprah Winfrey Show is being honored for two shows about male sexual abuse. The show's producers worked with RAINN staff, and several of the 200 male survivors who attended the shows were members of the RAINN Speakers Bureau.

Peace Corps Partners with RAINN

The Peace CorpsThe Peace Corps and RAINN have agreed to collaborate and share resources on sexual assault prevention and response.

"The Peace Corps is committed to providing the best, most compassionate support to volunteers in the field. This agreement allows Peace Corps to work with RAINN to implement a stronger, more comprehensive training model for Peace Corps volunteers serving around the world," said Peace Corps Director Aaron S. Williams.

Through the partnerships, RAINN will provide the Peace Corps with guidance and feedback on the development of an enhanced sexual assault prevention and response program, and the Peace Corps will share best practices and information on cross-cultural issues related to preventing sexual violence and responding to victims in other countries.

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Georgetown Law Students Lobby for SAFER Act

Rachel GandellGeorgetown Human Rights Action, a group of Gerogetown law students, is working with RAINN to promote congressional passage of the Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence Registry (SAFER) Act. Students are meeting with congressional staff to recruit cosponsors for the legistlation, which is expected to be introduced this spring.

In a panel discussion this month, Rachel Gandell, RAINN's public policy manager, told law students and congressional staff that "the SAFER Act will help end the backlog of untested DNA evidence by bringing transparency and efficiency to the testing process, and by empowering victims to track the status of their own cases."

Reporting of Sexual Assault in the Military

Reporting in the MilitaryAccording to the Department of Defense Fiscal year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, the Military Services received a total of 3,158 reports of sexual assaults involving service members in fiscal year 2010; incidents ranged from rape to wrongful sexual contact. According to the Defense Manpower Data Center's 2010 Workplace and Gender Relations Survey of Active Duty Members, 71% of women and 85% of men indicated that they did not report an incident of unwanted sexual contact they experienced in the prior year to authorities. The top three reasons cited by active duty women for not reporting their incident are:

  • 67% do not want anyone to know
  • 65% feel uncomfortable making a report
  • 60% think their report will not be kept confidential

Now, with Safe Helpline, victims of sexual assault in the military will have easy access to confidential, anonymous support, advice and information, including how to report the assault if they chose to do so.

 RAINN in the News

ABC NewsABC News
Alcohol is a classic "coping mechanism" for victims of abuse.
—Jennifer Marsh, director of RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline, on actress Meredith Baxter's allegations of abuse by her ex-husband

"[Readers] can see the type of grooming that can take place and the tools that perpetrators and offenders use; how they pick out a particular victim that seems vulnerable and easy to isolate."
—Marsh, discussing how pedophiles identiy and prey on victims

"More than 17 million American women have been victims of sexual violence...A call to the 24-hour National Sexual Assault Hotline is free and confidential...If even a phone call is daunting, log on to RAINN's [Online] Hotline (, where you'll be connected via secure instant message to trained [staff]."
SELF magazine on recovering from sexual violence

Perez HiltonSeventeen magazine
"If you've been sexually abused, you're not alone. And there is someone who can help"
—Gabrielle Union, a RAINN supporter, on "standing up against rape."

Lawmakers Making a Difference

Congressman Turner"The DoD Safe Helpline, which will be operated through the support of RAINN, is something I've always advocated for a number of years. Our servicemembers who have been tragically affected by sexual assault will now have an anonymous forum where they can get help in their hour of need, while protecting their identity. I greatly appreciate RAINN's continued support in providing this invaluable asset to our men and women in uniform."
Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH), chairman of the House Armed Services' Strategic Forces subcommittee

Niki Tsongas"Underreporting of sexual assault in the military is a very serious problem. With the expertise of RAINN, the DoD Safe Helpline will provide an invaluable service to members of the Armed Forces by providing an anonymous venue for service members to report this crime and get help."

Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA), member of the House Armed Services Committee

More News
In April, Your $1 = $2

MatchIn recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, some supporters have agreed to match your April donation dollar-for-dollar.

Give now, and your donation to RAINN will help twice as many people!

Are You Following @realMickFoley?

#Mick FoleyIf not, make sure you start to follow Mick Foley on twitter today. Next week, Foley will unveil his new twitter campaign to raise money for @RAINN01. Sign up now to be the first to hear about the unique perks and incentives he is offering.

RAINN Reaches Out to Help More Survivors with New Web Video

Free. Safe. COnfidential.

Demand for the Online Hotline has surged: Last month, the hotline helped a record 2,770 people, up 50% from the prior year. (So far this year, RAINN's hotlines have helped more than 30,000 people recover from sexual assault)

To learn more about how the Online Hotline provides one-on-one help, check out Free. Safe. Confidential., a new video RAINN produced with support from the Justice Department's Office for Victims of Crime. Or visit the Online Hotline for live help, 24/7.

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Spotlight on the Speakers Bureau: Meghan Oberzan

Meghan Oberzan

In 2005, Meghan Oberzan was out on a morning jog in Charlotte, North Carolina, when a stranger pulled her off of a busy street and raped her. She immediately reported her attack to the police and provided DNA evidence, which connected her case to two other unsolved rapes. Two years later, when the perpetrator committed yet another crime, police linked him through DNA to Oberzan's case and arrested him.

Thanks to Oberzan's help, North Carolina improved its law and now collects DNA samples from defendants arrested for violent crimes, joining 23 other states that collect DNA from at least some felony arrestees. Oberzan was a vocal advocate of the change, speaking publicly about her rape and working closely with the North Carolina Attorney General in order to help other victims of this violent crime.

Learn More About Becoming A Member of RAINN's Speakers Bureau

Volunteer Spotlight: Thankful Vanderstar
Thankful Vanderstar

"No stress that I am experiencing compares to what the visitors to the hotline have suffered, and their courage in reaching out for help is such an inspiration. Virtually every visitor I chat with thanks me profusely for my help, but it is I who am grateful for the opportunity to be the one that helps to set them on the road to recovery. I may be more proud of the work I do on the hotline than I am of anything else I do in my life."

Learn More About Volunteering for RAINN

Join @RAINN01 on Twitter

TwitterWant to stay updated about RAINN news and events and fun ways to get involved? Start following RAINN on Twitter today. You can also spread the word by re-tweeting our posts and encouraging your friends to follow RAINN.

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